Thinking Yogi

The intersection of two loves: yoga and writing.

Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in svadyaya

Posted by on in Off the Mat
Like so many millions around the country and around the world, I am saddened, fearful, and angry at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others before them. My heart goes out to the families of each of these individuals who died senselessly, and in such a brutal way.

I want to acknowledge that whatever I say here will be flawed, but I'm trying to move away from my fear-based default of not saying or doing anything when it comes to matters of racism, towards some sort of action, however small and imperfect.
 
b2ap3_thumbnail_Black-Lives-Matter.jpg

I often feel hopeless contemplating the impact one person's actions could make on the systemic racism that has been pervasive in our country for hundreds of years. And it's certainly not as easy as following some checklist or action plan - if it was that simple, racism wouldn't exist. But everything I've learned from equity trainings and the reading I've been doing suggests that we don't need to go big to begin. Rather, each of us, and especially those of us who carry the privilege of whiteness, must self-reflect. It's not comfortable to admit to biases, even if unconsciously held, but it's an essential first step before we can hope to change our interactions with others or make an impact on our broader community.

This is svadyaya, self-study. I'm reading books recommended by those who know so much more than I do (see the list of resources below). I'm seeking out knowledgeable and compassionate leaders in the movement and listening. And then my practice is to take baby steps speaking up in small ways rather than staying silent.
What can you do now, right from your own home?

I encourage you to start with educating yourself, as I am.

1. Listen and join the Conversation
Yoga Alliance is hosting a free Community Conversation on Yoga and Race Relations led by Tyrone Beverly (who is amazing) this Friday, June 5th from 2-3:30pm ET. I will be tuning in to listen and learn, and I encourage you to attend. And please spread the word! Register here

2. Talk with your Kids (or explore this great resource yourself)
Chicago Public Schools recently put out a guide to having conversations around race and civil disobedience, but it's not only for children. It contains a ton of links to articles and resources that help facilitate thinking and conversation around key questions surrounding racism, the trauma caused by racial violence, and the impact of media.

3. Explore these Educational Resources & Ways to take Action and Donate

As we teachers like to say, yoga is about self-care. But it can be more than that. Let's use our practice not only to care for ourselves, but also to do the hard work of honestly looking at our own beliefs and actions so that we may first act more consciously and compassionately in our everyday interactions. Only then can any of us hope to contribute to a change in the systemic racism that has taken the lives and liberties of too many.

This starts with each of us as individuals. I encourage you to begin that reflection for yourself, in your own home, right now. More importantly, continue that work once time passes and the media attention surrounding George Floyd's murder fades. My books are stacked up and I'll be joining you - reading, listening, and learning.
Hits: 262

Can you imagine what your day would look like if you paid as much attention to your own battery levels as you did your phone’s?

Two weeks ago when my kids were home and our family was living in the limbo between summer activities and the start of school, I’d play outside with them for much of the day, compensating by shifting my workday to the post-bedtime hours. After a few late nights I was feeling run down and somewhat Mean Mommy-ish, but every evening I’d still find myself at my desk as the clock ticked past midnight. No matter how late I had stayed up, before I shut off the light and called it quits for the day I’d always double check that my phone was plugged in.

The battery on my phone predictably dies within a day, even when I haven’t used it. It’s been this way since I got the new phone six months ago, so after it died on me once or twice I noted the issue and have remained vigilant about checking my battery and recharging as needed. (Another approach would have been to just buy another battery, but that’s the subject of another post.)

b2ap3_thumbnail_Battery-levels.jpg

The sight of my fully charged phone – that proud green bar with a powerful little lightning bolt – makes me feel ready for anything that life throws at me. As the hours wear on and the battery level goes down, I check the battery display obsessively, worried about getting to the piddly yellow band or (gasp!) the dreaded red stripe accompanied by that terrible beep that signals the near-end of my phone battery’s life.

Without consciously setting rules, over the past few months I’ve adopted an unspoken method for keeping my phone juiced up. If my battery is more than halfway charged, I leave it alone for the day knowing it’ll be okay until I can charge it up overnight. If it’s less than halfway charged I strategize, no matter where I am, to figure out when and where I can plug it in. In extreme cases if I know there won’t be a recharging opportunity for a while, I’ll often just shut the phone off to conserve its precious energy.

When I consider the gymnastics I put myself through for this device (particularly considering that I’m anything but phone-obsessed), it seems laughable. I rationalize it because as a mom with young children and a business owner I rely on my phone, and these are the hard-and-fast rules it presents me. There’s no bargaining for just a few more minutes so I can finish a text message to let my husband know my phone is dying and we’ll be staying at the park for a while longer, or to call back a client who wants to know more about bringing yoga to her workplace.

I really never thought much about this recharging craziness until my friend and colleague Lisa Sandquist mentioned the idea in the context of restorative yoga, noting the irony of how vigilant we are about phone and device recharging, when it never even occurs to most of us (even the yoga teachers among us – ahem!) to apply the same concept to our own energy levels.  I’ve unfortunately become an expert at taking myself beyond the red bar, deaf to my own terrible version of the beep that comes when I’m overtired and grouchy.

Since Lisa planted the seed, I’ve been pretending that I’m a device that must be adequately charged in order to function. On nights when I’m super tired, even if I have work to do I pretend that my battery doesn’t have an override setting. I pretend that there’s no dark chocolate waiting for me in the pantry to give me that boost to work till 2AM. Instead I lie down on the floor and throw my legs up the wall for 10 minutes.  I breathe deeply and acknowledge my tiredness rather than trying to push through or beyond it.

When I emerge from that 10-minute plug-in, I feel different. Not fully recharged (that only comes with a few nights of consistent good sleep), but nowhere near the yellow or red. I’m solidly in the green, and I approach everything that comes after that in my day differently. Some of the softness of my restorative yoga break comes with me as I decide how to spend my time, how to move, how to speak.

This calls for svadyaya, self-study!

If I can modify my phone plug-in behavior based on hourly checks of a quarter-inch green bar, I can certainly learn to look inward once or twice a day to determine whether my body/mind may be in need of a recharge for a few minutes.

Humans don’t come equipped with bright, shiny, LED screens or that terrifying low battery sound. But with the conscious practice of yoga and self-awareness, we can learn to see the signals almost as clearly as if they were green, yellow, or red bars. 

Hits: 96547